In Episode 244 with Coach Carrie Cohen, Marriage Coach and Psychotherapist we explored the situation of marrying the wrong person. A national average from the Department of Labor Statistics states that 50% of us are divorced from our first marriages. But it gets worse: 60% of second marriages and 70% of third marriages end in divorce.
We discussed that the age at which we marry matters; people we choose as spouses in our 20s are probably not the people we would choose in our 30s and later. That’s because we grow a lot in our 20s and eventually find our balance after a lot of life experiences. We’re more mature in our 30s, and hopefully have dated a lot of people so that we can evaluate the type of people who make us feel good by treating us with courtesy and respect.
Working as a divorce mediator I hear a lot of marriage stories, and consequently divorce stories. It’s impressive the number of people who say that they knew they were marrying the wrong person!!!! Yet they did it anyway. Why? Well, a number of different reasons:
- They didn’t believe their gut, their inner voice that is the guiding light to correct decision-making.
- They married a replica of one of their parents because that was what was familiar to them, even though they may not have agreed with how their parents interacted in their respective parental roles.
- Their intended spouse checked all the right boxes logically, but didn’t provide the emotional connection to make a marriage long term.
- Financial security
- Not understanding what real love is, means, and how real love expresses itself.
- Settling because of fear of being alone.
- Lack of self-worth
- Being Love Bombed (narcissists love bomb)
When do we call it quits? Immediately, if your life stops being enjoyable. Life is too short to spend it with people who don’t feed your soul. And, correcting a bad decision will open the door for someone else, or for a better life on your own. Look, we all make decisions against our own health and welfare. It’s just part of being human and learning as we go through life. But acknowledging your decision about marrying your spouse was wrong, is the first step towards making the next decisions the right decisions.
If you need to ask for a divorce, please don’t blame the other person. If you’re asking for a divorce, own the decision you’re making. Speak to your spouse from what mediators call the “I position”. Express what you want to be happy, what you need to be happy, and maybe even thank your spouse (if appropriate) for the time and the connection that they provided for the time you were together. But blaming gets people nowhere. It makes the divorce experience worse than it has to be. There is a way of communicating that the divorce is in response to, perhaps, infidelity, without blaming your spouse for going outside the marriage. For example, “I know I can’t bounce back from the affair. I wish I could, but I know myself well enough to know that staying in the relationship won’t work for me.” Or, “What I wanted 10 years ago is not what I want now in terms of life goals and dreams. I want the best for both of us, and I think we can’t be the best choices for each other.”
It’s hard to end a relationship. But what’s the alternative if the relationship isn’t fulfilling? More of the same? Staying married to the wrong person is the wrong decision if happiness, fulfillment, and being in an honest relationship is important. Having small children makes the decision to divorce really tough. I know that is a serious consideration. You have to do what you think is best for the kiddos. Who knows, maybe your spouse is ready to make a change, too. Honesty is generally the right policy.
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